04/11/2010 Credit Crunch and Rising Cost of Hay Leads Owners to Abandon Their Horses

The Horse Trust has noticed a dramatic increase in the number of horses being abandoned across Buckinghamshire.

So far this year, the charity has taken in five abandoned horses.  Unlike the previous five years, when The Trust had not been alerted to any abandoned horses in the area. It has also received numerous calls to its equine welfare helpline with owners increasingly desperate due to the combination of the credit crunch, government cuts and the increasing cost of hay.

"Until recently, there wasn't a problem with horses being abandoned in Buckinghamshire," said Liane Crowther, Welfare and Education Officer at The Horse Trust. "But now it seems that the economic climate and the spiralling cost of hay is pushing owners to desperate lengths. Many owners keep their horse on a shoestring budget so simply can't afford the increased cost of feeding their horse."

Staff at The Horse Trust's Home of Rest, which provides sanctuary for around 100 horses, have also had to cope with the increased cost of hay. The charity is facing an additional bill of £23,575 for hay and haylage this year due to a shortfall in production from its land and the cost of hay, which has more than doubled since last year.

The most recent abandonment case taken in by The Horse Trust is Shetland pony Piglet, who was found abandoned by the police in Chalfont St Peter in October. Piglet was brought to The Horse Trust’s sanctuary in Speen, Buckinghamshire when an owner could not be traced. He was riddled with worms when he arrived at the sanctuary and was at risk of losing an eye.

"When Piglet arrived he was in a bad state and obviously hadn't had any veterinary treatment for some time. It's sad to think how long he might have suffered before he was abandoned," said Liane.

Staff at The Horse Trust are now nurturing Piglet back to health and have arranged for him to see a specialist ophthalmologist to treat his infected eye. 

To help The Horse Trust continue its work with abandoned horses, or to donate to the charity's hay appeal visit www.horsetrust.org.uk, www.justgiving.com/hayappeal or contact 01494 488464.